The Washington Post, in its role as the industry paper of a company town where the product is national politics, takes five pages to highlight four people who swear they won’t be working for Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 campaign. And even those of you whose immediate reaction to She Who Must Not Be Named runs along the lines of AGGGHHHildebeastkillkillKILL will probably agree that getting these operatives well away from any future Democratic campaign is an accomplishment to be applauded:
Howard Wolfson, the 2008 communications director for Hillary Rodham Clinton, has said he will not return for a 2016 presidential campaign. Neither, for that matter, will Neera Tanden, the campaign’s policy director. Ditto for Mark Penn, the chief strategist, and Patti Solis Doyle, the embattled campaign manager.
As core members of a dysfunctional “Team of Rivals,” these top advisers were seared, scattered and, to different degrees, forged by the 2008 experience. Haunted by the failures in management and messaging, they have worked hard to get over their shattered White House dreams and rejection by a Democratic base enamored with Barack Obama. They express their requisite hope that Clinton will run and win, but also their lack of interest in jumping back in…
Clinton, who declined to be interviewed, moved on more quickly than many of her senior staff by going to work for Obama as secretary of state… Now, as Clinton repositions on issues such as gay marriage, reconnects with donors and crowds out potential rivals, the nearly two dozen veterans interviewed for this article debated who among them could or would come back….
After Clinton’s concession in June 2008, Wolfson joined Fox News as a contributor. Bloomberg, the self-made billionaire who by then had shed party affiliation altogether to become an independent, was seeking a controversial third term as mayor. In potentially luring Wolfson, Bloomberg’s associates saw an opportunity to both sign a talent and prevent a proven foe from working for mayoral rivals….
Now, as Bloomberg’s powerful deputy mayor for government affairs and communications, Wolfson has embraced Bloomberg’s disdain of party politics and pushed the kind of transactional politics that puts results over ideology. Wolfson has taken to saying of Bloomberg that “he is the only major political figure in America operating outside the two-party system, and as a result, he sometimes makes decisions that partisans don’t understand.”
Wolfson also runs Bloomberg’s well-funded Independence USA PAC and is expected to continue to do so after the mayor leaves office. The mayor has said he would use his PAC, and by extension, Wolfson, to reward any politician who bucks his party on issues dear to Bloomberg. That means that the man once responsible for championing Democrats in Congress will be spending Bloomberg’s money to reelect Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), who opposes gay rights and has advocated prosecuting abortion providers, but has stuck his neck out to support background checks on guns…
In her office at the Center for American Progress, where she is president, Tanden displays two framed photos behind her desk. One, of Clinton with her arm slung around Tanden, reads: “From the White House to the Senate and beyond . . . Thanks for all you do for me. I couldn’t have done it without you. Hillary.” The other shows Clinton’s former policy director laughing alongside Obama.
“On health care, on economic issues, she was the progressive voice in the presidential campaign,” said Tanden. She added, quietly, “We became the status quo campaign.”
Unlike many progressive Clinton alumni who had a hard time moving on after Clinton’s defeat and held a grudge against Obama, Tanden joined the Obama team and played a key role in the passage of health-care reform. During that time she occasionally exchanged e-mails with Clinton. Since leaving the administration, she has become a consistent thorn in the administration’s left side as a leading progressive voice…
While not as definitive, Wolfson’s former deputy, Phil Singer, has also moved on, but to the center. The once famously volatile operative now describes himself as a believer of “constructive engagement.” Founder of Marathon Strategies, he represents such liberal bogeymen as Wal-Mart. He also is an adviser to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D). The governor is criticized for many things, but neglecting to exercise control is not one of them. With Singer’s help, he has established himself as ruthlessly pragmatic and effective — the very traits missing from the Clinton operation.
The crash-landing of the Clinton campaign dispersed its leaders across the political spectrum. But it might have driven her chief strategist and President Bill Clinton’s former pollster out of politics altogether…
Penn has been tagged as the egocentric villain of the campaign who sowed seeds of dissent in the Team of Rivals… The vast majority of the former Clinton aides — many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of upsetting the powerful Clintons — believed that it was impossible for Penn to rejoin an eventual campaign…
One attendee at a December 2011 event at the Newseum featuring Clinton reported overhearing Huma Abedin, a close aide to the then-secretary of state, admonishing a member of Penn’s entourage that “we should have been notified that he was going to be here.” (Abedin responded: “I’m 100 percent sure this didn’t happen.”) Yet in July 2012, Clinton accepted his invitation to speak at a Holocaust Museum event organized by Penn’s former firm.
At the beginning of the year, Penn sought to enlist Clinton for a Microsoft promotion linked to the State of the Union address. He declined, according to a person with knowledge of the pitch. “We got Jimmy Carter,” Penn said….
Asked what he had learned from 2008 to help him in his new job, which includes formulating Microsoft’s negative ad campaign against Google, he said: “You look at how people responded to the 3 a.m. ad in 2008 and I see how they are responding to something like the Scroogled campaign that we are running. And you see that in many ways America responds to a good question.” …
I hate that Bing commercial. Not a complete surprise to learn that it’s Penn’s brainfart.
I love how the media and Hillary apologists still try to blame her team for losing in 2008. Her team did suck but that happened in part due to Hillary’s inability to make tough decisions and put 1 person in charge. Instead all of them were fighting over who was in charge and Hillary was too afraid to fix her campaign team. But, the real reason she lost was because she just isn’t a very good candidate and she is incapable of learning from her mistakes unlike Obama. In the beginning of the primary campaign, Obama was not a very good debater, but by the end of the 2008 primary he was winning debates against Hillary. Because he took the time to work on his weaknesses. Hillary made zero changes throughout her campaign except to blame her team and the media for her weaknesses. Why people want to put someone who is incapable of taking responsiblity for their mistakes and can’t make hard decisions in the Oval Office is beyond me. But, Hillary does have one hell of a PR team that manages to sell an image of Hillary that has zero basis in reality.
Villago Delenda Est
No Mark Penn?
Hillary has a chance, then!
Higgs Boson's Mate
No more Clintons. No more Bush’s.
Scroogle.net used to be a free service to access Google anonymously.
Wonder if Penn purchased the rights to the name or just appropriated it.
The prophet Nostradumbass
@NotMax: they’re using “Scroogled.com”, which is slightly different. Devious.
Higgs Boson's Mate
I take back my comment at #4. There would be a great nostalgic kick out of a Hillary vs Jeb confrontation. It would be just like watching one of those Fifties sci fi movies where two confused lizards on a paper mache set are portrayed as bloodthirsty monsters in a battle of giants.
The prophet Nostradumbass
@Higgs Boson’s Mate: I would enjoy seeing Clinton metaphorically kick Gob in the junk repeatedly.
The problem with Hillary in 2008 wasn’t the policies they were advancing. Swap Obama and Hillary on policy and the result would be the same.
Hillary suffered from 2 problems:
1) They ran a bad campaign. Bad ground game. People can beat money.
2) Iraq. It gave a lot of voters reason to consider Obama.
Losing the 2008 staff should help with 1). I think Hillary has largely absolved herself now of 2).
SecState was a good role for her.
Clinton v. Bush 2: Electric Boogaloo.
If it happens, time to get my Palestinian citizenship in order. Since I’m not Palestinian, I assume that’s a couple hundred dollars.
I agree that Hillary was a bad candidate because she did not hire nor manage her campaign staff well at all. That was one of the major reasons I didn’t want her to win. I felt that she would take pretty much anyone who wanted to work for her, as long as they had history as democratic operatives. Not that they might actually know what they were doing, only that they had been doing it for a while. Seniority is more important than competence. That’s not a good trait for a president running a country with more than a million employees.
James E. Powell
Hillary Clinton also suffered from the aversion many people, including me, felt toward Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton. And she was carrying the dead weight and the residual negatives of the 90s.
If Hillary wasn’t female, she would have as much support as Harold Ford.
Jason Horowitz @ WaPo:
Question: Is Hillary Clinton actually reconnecting with donors and crowding out rivals, or is that something Horowitz made up just to make his report sound relevant?
Seriously, that’s not a rhetorical question. I hadn’t heard that Clinton was taking any actions yet to shore up a campaign for the 2016 nomination.
Another Halocene Human
@Higgs Boson’s Mate: Ramen, brother.
Another Halocene Human
I liked Hilary as SoS, but it was a great role (to me) for someone who is slightly more conservative because you want someone who is not going to be whirling around shaking shit up or being a loose cannon because all of the countries we deal with are going to have trust issues when it comes to dealing with the USA so a known quantity like a senior politician with a reputation like that is going to work in our favor. Kerry’s essentially the same if somewhat less well known although I’m sure as Senator he has already met senior officials in certain countries. I think Kerry is a bit less conservative than Clinton. But Clinton was also good because her one really progressive area was women’s rights globally. She cultivated a crowd who was passionate about that and supported them. This is a bigger deal that some people realize because there is right now an international alliance between patriarchal religionists who are trying to suppress any hint of human rights for women. At home, these evangelical Christian and hardline Muslim leaders claim to hate the other religion, but at the UN they are best buddies. While Kerry has never been an enemy of women’s rights I doubt he has the same passion on the issue, but I also think he’s likely to continue what Clinton started as there’s no sign of any shakeup at State with his takeover.
I just don’t think Clinton would get my vote for prez unless she’s up against a more odious Republican than her because she is too authoritarian and conservative and quite frankly elitist. I don’t even believe for a second that Hilary Clinton would have gone out on a limb for certain issues like the Obamas have for example to help single mothers. It’s not anything she has a personal connection to. And she’s tolerated being surrounded by racists. I just don’t care for it.
Anyway, in 2016 she will be way too old. I really doubt the Democratic base as a whole is going to be demanding her. You need young organizers to be excited, and there are other candidates. Clinton really appealed to my and my wife’s grandparents in 2008 and, well, half of them have died since then.
Another Halocene Human
I know somebody will disagree with me about conservative SoS’s again, but, hey, that’s how I feel> I don’t think Obama ought to have jettisoned Van Jones (at least not so quickly, I’m sure he’s doing great work outside the admin) but, come on, you don’t put Van Jones in charge of State. Even if he’s NOT the radical some people think he is.
You especially don’t put a mouth like Chris Christie or Alan Grayson, somebody who picks fights and mouths off.
When I say conservative, I do mean it’s traditional sense, not the Tea Party crazy-off. Nothing conservative about that. More like authoritarian loons crazed by fear and rage.
@Another Halocene Human: “I just don’t think Clinton would get my vote for prez unless she’s up against a more odious Republican”
In other words, a Republican.
shouldn’t a pundit wait until at least one person has announced candidacy before declaring the winner of the race ?
and, umm, fuck 2016, there’s an election in 2014.
@Marc: Let’s see, the current Republican field appears to be Rick Santorum, Mike (Impeach him Now) Huckabee, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio. Well, I think that answers the question for “Another Halocene Human.”
@David Koch: Oh come on! I am not an admirer of Hillary (I have the support of working, hard-working Americans, white Americans) Clinton but it’s really unfair to compare her to Harold Ford, Jr.
She has a team working for her and a PAC.
The sniper fire story should eliminate her from any consideration as president.
That was a story from fantasy land that she believed. Someone who believes such delusions is dangerous.
Way too early for this.
That said, there’s the candidate people wish they had, and the candidate they’re going to get.
Given the current state of the NeoConfederates (ready for strait-jackets, the lot of them), the Dem candidate is going to be the default choice. I literally cannot imagine a potential GOP candidate that could cause me to pull the lever for him/her.
@David Koch: +1
I will remind folks – Hillary still hasn’t admitted that she was wrong about Iraq
It absolutely should. She told that lie multiple times and when called on it said she was tired. She is a pathological liar and should be nowhere near the White House.
And she still hasn’t apologized for her Iraq vote.
I’d like to have a candidate in 2016 who’s not yet another “best pal” of Wall Street. So I want Elizabeth Warren in 2016. No one else is even beginning to do the work for the middle class that she’d begun long before she was elected to the Senate.
I’m still trying to decide which of the never ending media masturbations are more vomit inducing. The constant left wing reactions to right wing manufactured scandals which enable the manufacturing and scandaling to grow and flourish. Or the ‘will Hilary run’ thing that will be never ending from here on and will only grow louder.
I hope to god Hilary doesn’t run and pisses off the Clintonistas who I find almost as annoying as the mouth breathers on the right.
Kos being one of them. He bugs the shit out of me.
Those four not being around makes me far happier about the prospect of a Hillary run. As I said all throughout 2008 (after Edwards dropped out, anyway, and my Edwards vs. Obama indecision (I did a little for Edwards in Iowa, and a little for Obama in NH) was ended), there was no substantial difference between Clinton and Obama on anything, but I was backing Obama, for exactly one reason: the people on their teams. Hillary was surrounded by know-nothing overpriced establishment tools, Obama had new, capable people. Hillary’s were entirely DLC and/or Third Way types (those descriptors aren’t as equivalent as some would think, but they overlap), Obama’s were much more progressive (either movement progressives, an entirely too-rare breed, or relatively apolitical but well-aligned)… which had a lot to do with the perception of Obama himself as “more liberal”, which I think was erroneous- as I said, I consider them identical on issues.
With a newer, more competent team, Hillary could be much more effective. Something indistinguishable from two more terms of Obama isn’t ideal, but it’s a damn sight better than anything else that’s been plausibly put forward (if we get a credible progressive, I may change my tune on that).